Netflix vs. Blockbuster vs. Everybody Else

While the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD may have ended, the war still rages among the best places to rent movies, music and games online. The two big names in DVD rentals – Netflix and Blockbuster – continue to top the list, while other smaller companies, like Gameznflix and Café DVD, have created niche markets all their own. iTunes and Netflix bring a great new feature to the table – direct download, which makes walking to the mailbox look like a chore. Can we get any lazier?

Here are the best rental sites, in some of the most crucial categories: selection, versatility, game availability, delivery and plan options.

Best Selection of Films and TV Shows: Netflix

Netflix offers renters approximately 100,000 TV series and films, with Blockbuster closing in with over 80,000 rental options. If you’re looking for more of an independent selection, Café DVD has approximately 13,000 artsy films.

Most Versatile: Blockbuster

It’s pretty easy to see why Blockbuster is the most versatile (and the commercials with the Alec Baldwin voice-over make it even clearer). Not only can you rent your DVDs online and receive them by mail, but you can also head to the store if you want a movie on the fly, which keeps the quaint tradition of physically picking out a movie alive. Although, beware, because unlimited in-store movie exchange plans tend to get a bit steep.

Best Combination of Games and Movies: Gameznflix

If you are a gamer who also likes to rent a movie or two, then Gameznflix is probably your best bet. The site boasts rentals for most systems: WII, X360, PS3, XBOX, GC and PS1, as well as approximately 28,000 DVD rentals. Plans include both, which makes it fairly reasonable if you’re into the two.

Quickest Delivery: Blockbuster and Netflix

When you opt for the big boys, you’ve got a great chance of getting your movie ASAP. Both companies offer a one to two business day delivery. Intelliflix, a smaller rental site, comes in third with a one to three day range.

Plan Options: Blockbuster

Blockbuster has a range of plans – 11 to be exact. Renters can decide whether they want to do Blockbuster By Mail, which charges $1.99 for in-house exchanges, Blockbuster Total Access, which gives two to five free in-house exchanges per month depending on the plan and Blockbuster Total Access Premium, with unlimited in-store movie exchanges.

Best Online Download: iTunes and Netflix

The wave of the future is here – direct download, and both iTunes and Netflix are capitalizing on the trend. At iTunes, renters can download movies of their choosing for $3.99 to rent or $14.99 to purchase.

If you do choose to rent, the movie will only last on your computer for 24 hours, so beware. Also, it may be tempting to start buying, which means you need to watch your wallet. However, iTunes also has a 99-cent movie of the week, which is definitely reasonable. Netflix also has a downloading system, which allows you to choose from 8,000 films and TV shows. The perk of Netflix – if you get the $8.99 and up plans – is that you can watch unlimited hours instantly on your PC.